Hi everyone! It’s been a while since I last posted to this blog, so I thought I’d give some updates and reflect on the last few months.
Uh-oh! I got writer’s block!
I should have seen writer’s block coming when I graduated from my Arts degree last year. But I thought I could bypass it since I was able to publish my large Lin-Manuel Miranda post shortly after my graduation. But, nevertheless, the writer’s block caught up with me the moment I posted it!
Writer’s block, like any other kind of art block, is a tricky beast for creatives to overcome. Many websites define ‘art block’ as a period in which an artist struggles to create due to a lack of motivation or ideas.
I’m not sure if other creatives feel the same way, but writer’s block and art block feel very similar to periods of procrastination or ‘laziness’ for me.
There are lots of articles and videos by other creatives that provide excellent advice for overcoming artistic and writer’s block. But I thought I’d contribute to the conversation by sharing what worked best for me.
What to do if you have writer’s block (or art block, procrastination, or laziness)
1. Stop judging yourself
I like to create artwork for each of my blog posts. I normally draw pieces that reflect the themes I write about. But this time, I drew the artwork before I had an idea for what to write about in this post.
It’s a simple sketch that wasn’t supposed to have meaning. But when I look closely at the two characters, it appears like one character is judging the other. So, I’ve nick-named the sketch ‘Judgement’. And because I used myself as a model for both characters, it reminded me to let go of my self-judgment.
For the first few months of my writer’s block, I actively tried to fight it. I judged myself for being unable to write and disliked what I produced anytime I tried. The more I doubted myself, the less I was able to create. So, once I embraced the fact that I needed a break, I started to see more progress.
‘When we call someone lazy, we condemn a human being. I am convinced that laziness is nothing more than a myth…everybody yearns to be productive. Every kid would prefer to do his homework and be praised for its quality. Every grown-up would like to generate output that merits a raise or a promotion. It’s all part of a natural search for both recognition and self-satisfaction…Therefore, when someone’s output is too low, we should not accuse or blame that individual. Instead, we should wonder what could be thwarting that person’s outward, obstructing his or her natural inborn inclination to produce.’Mel Levine, The Myth of Laziness, 2003
2. Find out why you feel this way
As expressed in the Mel Levine quote above, we should think about why we might feel unmotivated or out of ideas. Humans are very complex and fascinating beings with behaviours that may be explained by anything from our sleep schedules to an event that might have happened in our childhood.
I believe that the term ‘lazy’ is not only an insult, but it also ignores the complexities of human nature. I’ve discovered that whenever I’ve experienced ‘laziness’ or procrastination, I’m also dealing with physical or mental fatigue that stops me from participating in my regular activities. Once I give myself the chance to properly address those internal issues, I’m back to working externally.
In the case of my writer’s block, I had just been through about sixteen and a half years worth of writing for school, work, and leisure. So, a break from writing was long overdue!
‘Two of the most common causes of art block are mental and physical exhaustion.’Miranda Balogh, ‘15 Ways to Overcome Art Block (That Actually Work)’
3. Take a break
Back when my perfectionism was at its peak, I used to roll my eyes when someone would suggest for me to take a break. I developed a martyrdom complex in which I felt compelled to prove how committed I was to a school, work, or personal project by suffering through it. It was an attitude that echoed pride, but was really deep-rooted in shame and insecurity.
Breaks are essential. First of all, rest and relaxation need to be practised at all times, not just when you’re sick. But going out and doing something fun adds a richness to your life that can make you even more inspired to get tasks done!
Also, I often have to remind myself frequently that life isn’t just about finishing tasks or receiving awards and accolades. Those things are nice and all, but pausing to appreciate the world around me makes my life so much more satisfying.
Taking a softer approach to life may appear to be counterintuitive to productivity, yet it actually makes things so much simpler!
‘In what has been an age of consumption and distraction, we are beginning to see that our connection to ourselves is of utmost preciousness. The grace we come to embody through deep self-awareness and care allows us to be authentic and present in all moments we live.’Meredith Gaston, Find Your Sparkle: Embracing the Magic of Life, 2019
4. Work on other projects
If you’re someone like me, who took a very long break from writing, you probably still want something else to work on. Now is the perfect time to pick up that new skill, hobby or activity you’ve always wanted to try! It could be anything from learning a new language, or playing a sport or video game!
I decided to put more time into my other Kristen’s Reflections projects. While my course was mainly focused on writing, I believe my true love is drawing. I used my writer’s block to experiment with and improve my drawing skills for future projects.
I’ve also been working on improving my video creation skills. I always seem to find fun things to film and I enjoy editing it all together. I think I’d like to create longer YouTube videos in the future for my audience members who prefer to watch videos over reading blog posts. But for now, I think my favourite project is my sketchbook series, which combines my love of drawing with the fun of video creation. I’ve made fifteen episodes so far!
5. Ease back into it
How did I know that I was ready to return to writing? I began to notice that I had ideas again. It turned out that I had also been writing the whole time without realising it! Emails, scripts for the voiceovers in some of my videos, and Instagram captions. I often forget that texting a friend also counts as writing! But I believe my ‘Square Selfies’ project convinced me that I was ready to get back into blogging.
Square Selfies is a set of photos I share on TikTok and Instagram at the end of every month. I also like to write some reflections about the month that just passed. I treat them like mini blog posts. I’ve posted Square Selfies for January, February, and March of this year and covered topics like being valued as an artist online, self-love, and productivity. And, since I was able to commit to that, I knew I was ready to jump back into blogging!
So, my advice for other creators is to notice if you’re naturally returning to your craft and then experiment with a small project until you feel ready to return to your major work.
I hope I’ve provided a bit of insight into why I haven’t been posting on this website for a while and how I’ve managed to get back into it. I’m not sure how often I’m going to post to this blog from now on, but I still have a lot of ideas I want to explore!
Overall, I hope that this post reminds you to not be so hard on yourself and embrace taking regular breaks. Stay positive and you’ll achieve so many wonderful things!
If you liked this post, you might enjoy…
- ‘Lin-Manuel Miranda: not throwing away his shot’ discusses themes of perfectionism and being an underdog.
- ‘Why women should take more risks’ is about the benefits of being brave and experimental.
- ‘It’s okay to be average’ debunks the idea that accolades and awards reflect your quality as a human being.
- ‘Homer’s Enemy- passive and active mindsets’ demonstrates the benefits of having a relaxed and optimistic attitude in life.
- ‘Audio journaling- what I’ve learnt’ discusses a fun way to release your thoughts.
Sources that inspired me:
- ‘4 Years after BURNOUT. This is what I would tell you.’ by Simple Happy Zen (YouTube Video)
- ’15 Ways to Overcome Art Block (That Actually Work)’ by Miranda Balogh (Blog Post)
- ‘Famous Lazy People’ by nigahiga (YouTube Video)
- Find Your Sparkle: Embracing the Magic of Life by Meredith Gaston (Book)
- The Myth of Laziness by Mel Levine (Book)